Evidence of executions by Russian troops mounting in Ukraine’s liberated eastern villages – National

Dyblova, Ukraine — Viktoria Nikolienko’s house in this recently liberated village appeared unharmed by the war. Until she started talking about what happened to her family who used to live there.

She explained that Russian forces abducted her husband, Arsen Ambartsumian, 49, and her son, Artem Nikolienko, 21, hours before Ukrainian troops arrived in Dibrova on September 10.

Their bodies were found the next day in the woods. They were blindfolded in traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts called vyshyvankas and shot.

“The neighbors heard the gunfire. They lived nearby, but they didn’t come,” Nikolienko said in an interview at her home southwest of Izyum.

Her daughter Karina and sister Lyudmila have also been missing since leaving for Izm to visit her grandmother.

“It’s been over ten days now. I don’t know where they are,” she said.

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The Ukrainian military offensive that has driven Russian forces out of the country’s eastern Kharkov region has swayed President Vladimir Putin, mobilized reserve forces and even prompted the threat of nuclear war.

They also uncovered what appeared to be atrocities committed by Russian forces during their five-month occupation of surrounding villages like Izyum and Diblova.

War crimes prosecutors said they finished exhuming bodies from the Ijum mass grave on Friday and found evidence of torture and executions.

Authorities said the 100 bodies recovered showed signs of unnatural death, and the killings were believed to have been caused by shelling, stab wounds and strangulation.

Yevhen Dokolov, head of the Kharkiv Provincial Public Prosecutor’s Office, said some had their hands tied behind their backs or had lost limbs.

Viktoria Nikolienko has a photo of her husband Arsen, who was killed by Russian forces in Dybrova, Ukraine.

Anna Blasenko.

Ten days after the Russians abandoned Diblova, children walked the dog-filled streets and the elderly tended the gardens. Of the 400 inhabitants, about 160 remain.

Locals remain traumatized. A man who approached a reporter on the street was accustomed to having to show identification during the occupation, so he quickly reached for his passport.

Nikolienko’s family is among those waiting for the police to exhume the body of a loved one buried in the village cemetery so that a proper investigation can be carried out.

Based on how the bodies were found, the family said it appeared that the son had been killed first, and then the father, who ran in, was shot in the back of the neck.

Both were associated with the Ukrainian military. Artem he was a military man in 2015 and he in 2016. Arsen said he had joined the Self-Defense Forces of Izyum but had been at home since the Russians invaded.

Artem Nikolienko, 21, was executed by Russian forces in Dybrova, Ukraine on September 9, 2022.

family handouts.

According to Artem’s uncle, Oleksiy Skorebry, the father and son had already been detained once.

“The first time they took them for three days and tortured them,” he said.

The Russian returned home at midnight on September 9, he said. Wearing masks, they said they came from the “commander’s office” and accused Artem of having a satellite phone, Scholebry said.

“I want the world to know what happened to them,” he said.

Sukhorebryi led reporters to the pine forest where the killing took place. I saw two holes in the ground, one of which was covered with branches. Red flowers were blooming nearby.

“This is where they were found,” he said. “I made the coffins for my nephew and my son-in-law with my own hands from ordinary boards. I didn’t know how to do it.”

Oleksii Sukhorebryi shows the place where his nephew was executed by Russian soldiers in Dibulova, Ukraine.

Anna Blasenko.

While waiting for Ukrainian forces to liberate the village, Artem was discussing conducting partisan attacks.

“He called me to start sabotage, but I told him that when our army got here, we could fight shoulder to shoulder with the Russians,” he said. rice field.

During that time they worked together in a bakery.

“He had a girlfriend and loved to fish with me. He was kind and followed me. He didn’t want to die,” Sukhorebryi added.

Sukhorebryi said he would join the army when explosions from the ordinance processing team rattled nearby.

“I’m going to fight. I don’t want them to come here again. I have small children.”

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In Izyum, Techyana Hhlbeniuk was weeping and speechless as Ukrainian soldiers invaded her city and recaptured it from a Russian retreat that had occupied it for five months.

“I was just holding flowers and I couldn’t move,” said award-winning poet Hrebeniuk.

Located on a hill on the road to the Donbass region, Izyum became a strategic city during the Russian War. An important stronghold in the Kharkiv region of eastern Ukraine, it was liberated by Ukrainian forces on 10 September.

Hrebeniuk’s surprise was understandable. For months, residents lived in an information vacuum without internet or phone service, let alone electricity, water or gas.

Ukrainian soldiers in Izym, Ukraine.

Anna Blasenko

Locals as Ukrainian authorities continue to clear the city, saying access to Izyum is only possible with a permit and that the Russians may still be hiding in the forest. is not allowed to leave.

Unbroken windows were hard to find in the city centre.

Housing complexes, supermarkets, schools, post offices and government buildings were all destroyed by artillery fire. But in a city whose pre-war population was 48,000, he has 10,000 left.

Before the war, locals lined the roads surrounding the city, selling mushrooms and berries picked from the pine forests surrounding Izm. Abandoned Russian trenches welcome visitors today.

Mass grave in Izyum, Ukraine.

Anna Blasenko

Khlevenuk said that during the Russian occupation, locals occasionally threatened her, telling invading forces that her writings promoted Ukraine and its culture.

“Sometimes citizens would say, ‘We know you and we can talk about you,'” she said.

Humanitarian workers have arrived with food crates since the city was retaken.

Ukrainian poet Tetyana Khrebeniuk in post-liberation ijum.

Anna Blasenko

Two residents, Orja and Angelina, lost their apartment to shelling in early March and took refuge in the basement of a nearby building.

“Every day we used to draw water from the river and make fires for cooking,” Olha said, adding that he had not witnessed any abuse by the Russian military.

“Everything was fine. Everything was fine. Under Russia, we lived normally,” said Angelina.

Women are worried about the coming winter. I hear they don’t have winter clothes and gas, water and electricity won’t be back on soon.

“Transport us from here to somewhere else. We want to keep quiet,” said Olha. “I want water, electricity, food and peace. I want nothing else.”

Svitlana, Olha and Angelina (left to right), residents of Izyum, Ukraine.

Anna Blasenko

Volodymyr Nazarenko, head of Izyum’s emergency services, said constant artillery and air strikes had destroyed the city’s infrastructure.

“First we lost electricity and mobile connectivity, then gas and water,” he said.

The airstrikes began on the night of February 28 and continued until March 1, he said. Shops were looted after being bombed or burned. From March 5, most hid in the basement. Artillery fire was heard all the time.

“At one point there were 1,500 people with children. The painting was terrible. There was no water, no food.”

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On the gate of the ambulance building, staff posted a list of addresses and dates on which porridge and milk were delivered from nearby farms.

Some were evacuated from the city, others returned home after getting used to the situation. Others stayed in underground shelters.

In the first months of the war, hundreds died, dumped in mass graves where bodies were found when Ukrainian forces liberated the city.

Graves in wooded areas near the old cemetery contain about 445 civilians and 17 Ukrainian soldiers. It bears an unnamed wooden cross, only numbered.

A bus shelter tagged with the Z logo by the Russian military near Izyum, Ukraine.

Anna Blasenko

Kharkiv Governor Olev Sinegbov said 99% of the bodies exhumed showed signs of violent death. One was buried with a rope around his neck.

A child was among those found at the scene, which gave off a horrible stench. A group of Russian soldiers were positioned within 50 meters of the terror.

The Russians left mines and booby traps around the cemetery and through the isms. The entire street was littered with anti-personnel mines, Nazarenko said. Explosions were heard as deminers cleared the area.

Evidence of executions by Russian troops mounting in Ukraine’s liberated eastern villages – National

Source link Evidence of executions by Russian troops mounting in Ukraine’s liberated eastern villages – National

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